Business Ideas: From the Weird and Wacky to the Wildly Successful

People come up with business ideas and inventions all the time. Some are life-changing, for instance, where would we be without the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?

But others not so much. If you need more convincing just check out the hit entrepreneurial TV show, Shark Tank.

If you haven’t seen it, it works like this: someone has a business idea but lacks the money, so they have to convince a panel of successful and wealthy business experts to invest in the idea.

Amongst those that didn’t win any investment were beer flavored ice cream and doggie treat tins. In the UK version of Shark Tank, called Dragons’ Den, one inventor came up with the DriveSafe Glove. In terms of how it worked, it wasn’t too difficult: it was a single glove which the driver put on the right hand to serve as a reminder when travelling abroad to drive on the right-hand side.

There’s also been cardboard beach furniture and edible greeting cards for pet pooches.  This invention was called Greet Me Eat Me – and it did exactly what it said on the tin. Pet owners would send edible card to their fluffy friends whereupon the dog could eat it.

And then there’s SuperKnees. They look a bit like roller-skates but are strapped to your knees. Why would you want to do that? Well, inventor Stipan Saulich reckons they increase work potential and reduce knee stress as well as being time saving devices.

But if you’re looking to make more money, without the hassle of coming up with an invention, then it might be worth considering working for yourself. This could involve retraining, for example learning a trade or skill, both of which are ear-marked as areas where there are jobs.

Heading into 2013 who knows what the next big thing is in business. There’s been plenty of chatter about green issues, so could it be something with sustainability. Or perhaps another Apple must-have item. And when it comes to setting up your own business, there’s nothing to hold you back – gender, race or even age.

Take Ashley Qualls. Back in 2004, at the height of the My Space boom, Ashley set up Ashley, who was then 14, tapped into the idea of personalising people’s profiles and teaching coding and graphics design. Her site went onto become a massive success, garnering more traffic than the readership of established teen magazines such as Teen Vogue and Seventeen. And at one stage, it even scored more hits than Such was the draw that Ashley was offered, but declined, $1.5 million plus a car to sell the site.

Another successful teen entrepreneur was Edinburgh-born Fraser Doherty. By 18, Fraser had set up his own jam business, Super Jam. It successfully tapped into the surge in healthy foods, using fruits like cranberries and grape juice instead of sugar. Beginning with trade shows and farmers markets, Fraser, the brand went on to be stocked nationwide in the UK, thanks to a deal with British supermarket chain, Waitrose.

Of course, there are always those other ideas:  those wacky ones which are just that, wacky. And for that we’re still grateful, because you never know where that creative spark will lead. And if we were all the same, the world would be a dull place.